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Via Instapundit’s Ed Driscoll:


The last one on the list isn’t a “downside” at all.  So it’s Six, really, to which we might add two very critical downsides missed:

7) Extremely intelligent people very rarely mature psychologically or socially. The ability to perform mental gymnastics and to achieve extraordinary success typically leads to a brutal, adolescent condescension towards “lesser” creatures.  Life becomes a permanent state of suspended adolescence.  Maturity first requires the inner strength to recognize and admit failure, and then it requires self-correction.  It’s a stimulus-response system of human growth.  Alas, very intelligent and successful people most often deny themselves that necessary stimulus for growth. (Count for yourself the number of people you’ve met who are brilliant and truly humble.)

This leads to …

8) The Flipside of the Dunning–Kruger Effect: Intelligent people typically fail to recognize the limits of their abilities.  One often finds these people assuming omnipotence much removed from their core metier.  Arrogance.  This is an extension of [Seven], above, though it takes on a life of it’s own.  Sure, the Dunning–Kruger effect is real, but it’s rare enough that brilliant individuals are forced to spend the time and effort to come to grips with their weaknesses.

Sometimes this stimulus occurs in the scientific – where doubts about the veracity of one’s findings and analysis are necessary strengths.  Too, one sometimes finds it amongst the truly religious where, again, doubt and truth are daily struggles.  Outside of these disciplines, chaos reigns. (Count for yourself the number of people you’ve met who are brilliant and truly wise.)

. . .

In your humble scribe’s experience it has been found that humility, wisdom and intelligence hardly ever coexist in the one man. They seem rather at odds.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. 2015/09/07 14:47

    Reminds me of Steve Jobs and others. With some of them I see autistic/asperger traits. Jobs and Gates come to mind. Some say Einstein too. It’s actually a difference in how their brains are wired that leads to behaviors. Still, at some point everyone knows when they are being an asshole or had been in retrospect. The choice is what to do about it. Some like repeating the mistake, some learn. Most of us are the former.

  2. 2015/09/07 15:00

    Ouch. Yeah.

    Good points about wiring and choice. Choice is a biggie. Damn, it’s hard to remain optimistic about the human condition, yeh?

    • 2015/09/07 15:05

      Nothing seems to evolve fast enough for some of us. Take the long view, meaning look at the past 100, 200, 500 and 1000 years. We’ve made progress so there’s optimism. When you are in the middle of a cesspool, everything stinks. Right now it’s up to our knees, it was up to our necks at one time. We’ll get out of it eventually. #7 comes with age. The older I get, the less I know.

  3. Libertarian Advoccate permalink
    2015/09/10 20:17

    Humility wisdom and intelligence in one man? Easy. Yeshua of Nazareth, but of course, he was also G-d.

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